Monthly Archives: September 2009

Trapped girls call for help on Facebook

Interesting news item from yesterday – two girls from Adelaide who were trapped in a drain called for help by updating their status on Facebook using a mobile phone. Some say this one comes in the category “you could not make this up”‘. Others – like Don Tapscott – would probable say this comes under “digital natives think differently”.

Now, as I understand, the two girls (aged 10 & 12) opted to seek out help from their social network instead of going straight to the authorities (eg. phoning ‘000’) because they wanted to avoid getting into trouble with their parents. Still, there are some important messages here, this one from Laurel Papworth:

“Incredibly important today is understanding how social networking protects our children. There is stuff they can’t tell a parent or a teacher or the police but they can’t bottle up any more. So they tell their friends, they tell people they play online games with, they write anonymously on websites full of emo-angst and they tell forum moderators and game GMs, who understand and ‘get them’. Expect to see lots more “we should’ve seen it coming” from adults waking up to teens pushing out warnings on online communities. It keeps them safe in the absence of an understanding adult”.

From my perspective – and drawing on Don Tapscott’s knowledge of these things – the girls had trust in their social network, more trust than in dealing with authority figures. Seems to me like another indicator of the central role that social network services play in the lives of digital natives.

Looking at this from anther perspective, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo all have age restrictions that limit access to those aged 13 or 14 and above. Such policies no doubt reflect the concerns that many have about social network site risks. Thing is, the reality is different. According to a UK study reported in August 2008, age restrictions do not stop many children from participating. A spokesperson for the UK research outfit said that “Children are at the vanguard of the social networking phenomenon, using sites such as Facebook and Bebo in the same way other generations used the telephone”.  True for Australia too. The ACMA’s Click and connect: Young Australians’ use of online social media 02:Quantitative research report found that:

  • the internet is a regular part of everyday lives of children and young people aged eight to 17 years
  • both frequency and length of use increase with age
  • young people of high school age (12 to 17) years used the internet on average 6.3 days per week for an average of 2.9 hours per day
  • the use of social networking services increases dramatically between the ages of eight to 17.

Plenty of room for thought here, not only about what digital natives do now that is so different, but what implications lie ahead for institutions and social interaction.

Future of Influence and more on Government 2.0


You may recall that I’ve posted a number of times on rise of ‘new influencers’ in social media. So the seminar on The Future of Influence held last Tuesday was not to be missed. Held in San Francisco and Sydney simultaneously (linked via Skype Video) there was a lively bunch of speakers, panellists and audience interaction. I’m putting up my notes from the summit in this posting along with some info about social media and influence that came my way subsequently. I’ve also drawn on the Twitter hashtag #foi09 used for the seminar as another reference in putting this posting together.

The event used to called The Future of Media, with the name change reflecting where marketing and content business interest now lies…or perhaps should lie. Interestingly, the name change resulted in a down-shift in participation in Sydney and an uplift in San Francisco, an outcome that Ross Dawson put down to “things needing to be successful overseas before they are accepted in Australia”.   Interesting indeed. That sentiment is consistent with what Duncan Riley (editor of Inquistor) has said about Australia being about five years behind the USA in the use of social media.

Anyway, here are some messages that came out of the seminar:

  • another reminder of the importance of digital media literacy: find good info online (good as in credible, accurate and believable) by looking into what others say about the author or the posting, how many people have bookmarked the item, how many people liked the posting; and for building personal learning networks online
  • the community is becoming more influenced by itself than by “leaders” or top-down, push media
  • moving away from push media and replacing audience measurement with measuring influence, advertisers are particularly interested in the ability to inspire action.  Advertisers need to define what behaviour they want to influence and measure that, and be actively engaged in what the community is saying in social media
  • Government interest in social media is in what can be done to move their policies and ideas. Politics is providing a learning ground for the effectiveness of social media influence that will in turn influence what business does in social media([and I would add in government agencies)
  • effective engagement in social media is about understanding the target community context and the people in the community, and that requires skills and abilities in sociology and psychology
  • broadcasters are becoming more reliant on receiving content from social media (eg. Twitter & YouTube) and re-distributing it relative to generating and distributing their own content
  • charging for online content is likely to shift more attention to social media, public media and sponsored media
  • developments in the semantic web and social media content aggregation will drive moe personalisation of media (that combine/integrate professional and social content)
  • tools to search with on social media include: Google Alert, Google Trends, Google Blogs, Facebook Lexicon, Tweetfeel, TwitterCounter, theDailyInfluence, SocialMention, Wotnews and Technorati.
  • techniques to gauge how influential people are include the size of their social graph, follower/friends counts and activity levels and blog post comments.

Being a social media summit there has been a lot put out about the event already. Examples are from Ross Dawson, Mick Liubinskas and Xavier Vespa.

In some developments over the course of today, TechCrunch posted about identifying the most influential and connected Twitter users. The article has some more data on the amazing speed in Twitter take-up over the last few months. The Web Ecology Project published a report  called Analysing Influence on Twitter where influence on Twitter is defined as “the potential of an action of a user to initiate a further action by another user”.  Actions include retweets, replies, mentions and attributions. On the basis of new methodology applied by The Web Ecology Project, mashable is more influential than CNN, but news outlets (regardless of follower count) influence large amounts of followers to republish their content to other users.

Finally, I met a number of interesting people at the summit, including Tim Martin. Tim is the director of 2 Sticks Digital Marketing, a Melbourne-based consultancy providing advise on online community building and engagement and other things. Have a look around Two Sticks web site to get a feel for digital marketing in practice.

Government 2.0

There was a publicsphere event held in Sydney today, see #nswsphere on Twitter. I viewed Premier Rees presentation over the live video stream hosted by the NSW Parliament. Premier Rees announced a new information sharing policy initiative as part of the NSW Government’s commitment to fostering an ‘Open Government’. One particularly interesting observation from the Premier was that one of the main challenges in achieving greater openness in government is to overcome the culture of secrecy and control in government agencies. Again, interesting indeed.